Christian Mentors, College age women, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women's Ministries, Writers

Sharing God’s Truth without Compromise…Part 3

Hey there ~ welcome to Part 3 of sharing God’s Truth without compromise. I’m transitioning into what it looks like to dig into God’s Word in the church. Just because we are within the church, doesn’t mean we all are in agreement about the Word of God. And that is truly a sad state for the Christian church. We have become too busy deciding what “our truth” is that so many have thrown out the idea that God’s Word is absolutely WITHOUT ERROR.

John Piper wrote this, “My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s Word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.”

Read that first sentence again…
“My feelings are not God.”

Feelings and emotions are given to us by God by they were never meant to determine or decide what is true or not regarding the biblical truths set by God from the before the beginning of time.

The dictionary defines feelings as, “the general state of consciousness considered independently of particular sensations, thoughts, etc; FEELING is a general term for a subjective point of view as well as for specific sensations: to be guided by feeling rather than by facts”

And emotions as, “an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness. EMOTION is applied to an intensified feeling.”

This is why we cannot view the Bible and interpret what God’s laws and precepts look like against our own personal intellect.

Everyone who just sat in the main morning service, hearing the same message, has most likely “heard” something a bit different from everyone else. This is because we are taking in the words that have been taught and have sifted the words through how they are feeling this morning.

There are so many distractions from being tired, upset with a family member or friend, how “so and so” should be hearing this message, being too hot or too cold, and a whole host of other feelings an emotions that affect how we discern the message of what the Pastor, speaker, or worship leader intended for the message to be.

But here’s the difference, the interpretations of a message on a Sunday morning between congregants is all coming from a human standpoint.

The message of God’s Word is His Word…the inerrant word of God…the Living Word of God cannot be changed. There are definitely feelings and emotions that are woven through every single word of scripture…but they are God’s feelings and emotions. Yes, He has a lot of them…He created us to have them too.

But ours can be fallible, His never will be.

Because He is God, He knew we would struggle with this and so He left us a map of how to navigate our feelings and emotions.

I think most of us are familiar with Proverbs 3:5-6, but let’s read a few more verses that surround those two verses, beginning with verse 1 – 8:  The Rewards of Wisdom

Proverbs 3:1-8
“1 My son, do not forget my [a]teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life [worth living] And tranquility and prosperity [the wholeness of life’s blessings] they will add to you. 3 Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]; Bind them [securely] around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. 6 In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil. 8 It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles—all your inner parts] and refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones. There is absolutely nothing negative about believing in, trusting in, holding tight to, the obedience to the commandments of the Lord. We will always be in the “winning” side; we will always walk in victory when we cling to the Truth and goodness of the Lord.”

Enter in all the denominations and beliefs that are in full swing around the world.

According to calculations found via Google by: Paohow Popchavei, in August 27 2018 says: “Today there are some 4,300 religions of the world’s, this is according to adherent, an independent, non-religiously, affiliated organization that monitors the number and size of the world religions. Side stepping the issue of what constitutes a religious adherent divides religions into Churches, Denominations, Congregation, Religion bodies, Faith group, Tribes, Cultures, and movements.”

Here are some 20 largest religions and their number of believers.

1: Christianity (2.2 billion)
2: Islam (1.5 billion)
3: Nonreligious ( Secular/Agnostic/Atheist) (1.2 billion)
4: Hinduism (1.1 billion )
5: Buddhism ( 535 million)
6: Chinese tradition religion ( 394 million)
7: Primal indigenous (300 million)
8: African tradition & diaspora (100 million)
9: Sikhism (30 million)
10: Juche (19 million)
11: Spiritism (15 million)
12: Judaism (14 million)
13: Bahai (7 million)
14: Jainism (4.2 million)
15: Shirito (4 million)
16: Cao Dai (4 million)
17: Zoraostrianism (2.6 million)
18: Tenrikyo (2 million)
19: Neo paganism (1 million)
20: Unitarian universalism ( 800,000)

All those religions are man makes, tomorrow there will be 5,000 religions or maybe more, so whichever people belief all are similar ideology, because humanity are one root and one destiny.
(https://www.quora.com/How-many-different-religions-are-there-in-the-world)

Now, within Christianity, there are at least a good 20, various denominations that splinter off from a main foundation of Christianity.

We cannot take out the parts of the Bible that we are uncomfortable with or that is not socially popular.

God’s commandments were not really comfortable or popular for that matter when He first breathed them into reality. Jesus said that we would be persecuted because of our belief in Him. And we are. Constantly.

I’m not saying that being a part of a certain denomination with the true Christian church is bad; the sticky part comes in as to why that denomination is formed to begin with. This is where the battle of being non-compromising within the Christian church comes from.

Whatever the denomination, whatever the church, whatever community you are connected with, there are ways to figure out if they are Bible-believing and God-fearing people.

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God’s Word is True.

God’s Word is without error.

It’s really that simple.

 

Blessings,

René

 

Women's Ministries

Free Refills….

Our family went out for a special celebration dinner the other night, and our server was on top of the refills!  Our water glasses never completely emptied, and the lemonade our daughter sipped on was refilled several times.  When the server asked to refill it for the fourth time, my daughter politely declined, “Oh my no…but thank you. It was delicious though but I’ve had enough.”

Have you ever wished that your favorite macchiato or cappuccino would have free refills too? Oh yeah! Especially on those days when I decide to hole up in a local coffee shop and focus on my writing…a free refill would come in handy for sure!! But I’ll take the free cups of water you can get…probably better for me anyway!

So what fills you up? 

Is it the job you strive at day after day and feel you are getting nowhere?

Is it the daily responsibilities of being a mom? a wife?

Is it the accolades of the community you’re a part of?

Is it the message preached on Sunday morning at your church?

Is it how many “likes” you receive on your latest social media post?

What fills up your heart? your soul? your life?

I’ve gone round and round with ALL of the above questions and ALL of them cup up empty for me in the long run. Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely LOVE being a wife, mother, mentor, teacher, speaker, and yeah, I get sucked in to the social media game more than I’d like to admit. So what do I do?

Simple answer ~ God’s Word!

Simple solution ~ READ God’s Word and spend time in prayer with Him!

Reality ~ I don’t always make the time for it like I should!

And here’s the real secret….

JESUS OFFERS FREE REFILLS!!!

John 7:38 declares, “He who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me], as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living water.’””

Will you sit with me here for a moment and soak in this verse? Read it again and picture it? What do you see?

I see a beautiful meadow with a gentle river winding its way around the area, no beginning and no end. But it is continually moving! Which means there is a source from which water flows INTO it and there is a destination where it’s going to pour into. Jesus is the only person who can do this for us. I’ve struggled enough over the almost 50 years of my life to know that I cannot ever, like EVER, be my own source of a fruitful life! I just end up being poured out with nothing to fill me back up. When that happens, it’s like I’ve said to Jesus, “Oh…spend time with You in Your Word…not right now, but thank you. Those verses I read the other day were really great but I’ve had enough for a while. I’m good!”

Can you imagine that? ~ But we do it all the time!

Even for the most spiritual person that I know, I know they are not doing it alone. They rely on the Lord to fill them up with what they need for the moments they serve and pour themselves out to bless others.

I cannot be a healthy and happy wife, mother, mentor, friend, servant, teacher, or community member if I’m only relying on myself to do all of that.

I’m sure that whomever you are reading this, we are probably in different seasons of life. But there is a common strategy to keep you filled up…

…read the Bible and pray!

Here’s another secret…

There is no where (like…NO WHERE) in the Bible that says in order to be a real Christian, or to get a good spot in heaven, that we have to sit and read the Bible all day long!  So in the name of Jesus ~ be released from a prison of thinking you are under a time constraint!

He just simply longs to spend time with you! And that is going to look different for everyone in all the various seasons of life! 

Some days as a young mom, I’d run the shower to get ready in the morning and read a few verses ~ and then I’d pray them for the rest of the morning. Some days I would finally find some alone time after I got my girls to bed.  I love having the ease of devotional and bible apps that we have in today’s world and weave them into my daily routine. Now that my husband and I are basically empty-nesters (we just dropped off our youngest at college yesterday to begin her Sophomore year!) I do have more time. So I can take on that “Read the Bible in 90 Days” challenge. Which has been amazing to have started on that journey, using a journaling Bible for the first time has been so much fun!

But whether it was a few quick verses, a devotional book or app, or several hours reading a hard copy of God’s Word, there has been ONE consistent addition and that is prayer.

Prayer can happen all. day. long!

You’re simply having a conversation…but a conversation with the God of the Universe! The Creator of all things including YOU! He knows you intimately. He wants to hear how your day is going. He wants to hear what is challenging you and what is causing your worry. He wants to celebrate the big and little accomplishments with you.

If you’re having a hard time connecting with that, think about the conversations you have with your people…

You pick up your kids from school and your first question bound to be, “How was your day today?” or “What did you do at school today?”Really? Nothing? It’s so much more fun when they actually answer you instead of saying, “Fine.”, “Nothing.” Seriously!

When you talk with Jesus…TALK to Him! Share your joys and sorrows, your hopes and fears, your accomplishments and concerns, your wants and needs ~ He really does want to hear them all! And with any good conversation, there has to be a lot of LISTENTING too! Don’t talk AT Jesus…but WITH Him. Try this, before you begin to pray to the Lord, ask Him first to give you a heart and ears to listen to what He wants to share with you. As you pray, more often than not, He will begin to reveal answers and solutions to you about the problem you are bringing to Him.

John 4:10, 13-14 is the most beautiful picture of the living water the Lord gives {as He spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well},  “Jesus answered her, “If you knew [about] God’s gift [of eternal life], and who it is who says, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him [instead], and He would have given you living water (eternal life).” Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.””

Doesn’t that just make you take a deep breath and slowly let the truth of God’s words here rush over your heart? Go ahead…close your eyes, breathe in deep and let it out slowly…thank the Lord for His living water. The life of His words in scripture. Jesus wants to give you refills of His love and direction EVERY DAY! Your first “cup” was the day you received Him as your Lord and Savior, and it was free! Through your free gift of salvation, like a glass of refreshing water on a warm day, we can be refilled every time we seek Him out.

Whether through scripture or prayer, you are receiving your free refill every time!

It doesn’t mean that you will live a trouble free life. This I know for certain. But my life is much better lived within the continual flow of His salvation and in the bubbling in my spirit of His words, than when I try to use other things to fill up the space and void in my life. Not one thing can ever replace or refill what the Lord can give me. Nothing I strive for or earn, no fame, no pats on the back, no “free drink reward”, can ever truly fill me up.

Give yourself the freedom in Christ today to receive fulfillment from Him ~ it’s free!

The only thing it will cost you is your pride and stubborn resolve to “do it on your own”, but how’s that been workin’ for ya? How about giving that a rest, so that you can have true rest in the soul refreshment that Jesus can give!

Drink in the free refills from Jesus ~ and you’ll have all the living water you need!

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Authentic Joy…

What come to your mind when you hear the word ‘joy’?

Candy ~ Almond joy?

Songs ~ Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Or different variations of the word JOY ~ happiness? Delight? Pleasure? Enjoyment? Bliss?

Or maybe on a more serious note, you’re wondering when the last time it was that you actually felt joyful?

So much of the idea of success in the world today is based on individualized aspects…What makes you happy? What lights you up? What moves you? What’s your passion? What drives you? Do those things!

But what happens on the mornings when you wake up and the answer to those questions are a big fat nothing? Then what do you do?

John 15:11 says “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.”

So this is what I want to focus on the blog today ~ how to have joy everyday no matter what the circumstances.

Joy is defined as, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated; the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.”

There are over 300 references to ‘joy’ in the Bible, so I’m going to throw it out there, this is something that is important to the Lord…something that He wants us to understand and embrace for our benefit. As opposed to the word ‘happiness’ which is only mentioned a mere eight times. Joy and Happiness are totally different…even though the definition of Joy contains the word happiness.

Happiness is fleeting and is usually attached to an event or how a person makes us feel.

Joy on the other hand, is a state of being. It is a way we can feel no matter what circumstances we are experiencing.

Oh…but there’s one more word I want to touch on before I share a story with you ~ FEELING.

The most important thing I can tell you about feelings is that many times, okay, most times, they aren’t to be trusted as the absolute in how we respond to a situation. Feelings are temporary. I love the quote, “Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.”

Let me tell you a little story ~

In January 1999, we were six months in to living in our dream home in Pasadena…white picket fence and all. My husband had a great job in the entertainment industry, money wasn’t an issue, we had two healthy daughters and decided to try for a third. Life was fantastic. I was so happy because I had everything I wanted. Did ya catch how many “I’s” were in that last sentence??

And then God decided to change the course of our life. It wasn’t horrible, but it was hard!

My husband came home one evening and said, “I’ve been praying a lot lately and I really feel that God wants me to quit my job and open my own company. I know this will mean that we will have to trade in our cars for less expensive ones and figure out if we can keep the kids in private school, oh yeah, and we’ll have to sell the house.”

Well, he told me how he felt, so I was gonna tell him how I felt…

I can still picture the scene in my mind; he was standing by the staircase and I was one stair up so we were just about eye to eye. I non-to-politely (honestly, I was downright rude about it), told him that he couldn’t possibly be hearing from God and I didn’t care what he felt because he was wrong. It was definitely NOT one of my proudest moments as a supportive Christian wife. But my husband truly loves me like Jesus does and he was so patient with me.

He just smiled, asked me to pray about it, and said that when I was ready to talk about it, to let him know.

That made me FEEL so mad!

Had I allowed my feelings to continue to prevail, I would have missed out on experiencing what true Joy can be.

It took the next 9 months to deal with all the things that I was feeling. How my heart ached at the thought of selling our dream home and moving again. How sad I was to be losing a very comfortable salary. Then I started realizing that all the things that were making me sad, were just things. I would still have my family and how could I walk away from doing what the Lord had asked us to do.

To step out in faith requires that we operate in the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23a says, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I love how the Amplified version of the Bible describes peace as being something “inner” ~ and what is on the inside of us is what ends up coming to fruition on the outside of us. Through this passage we can see that authentic joy has nothing to do with our happiness; it has everything to do with where our identity comes from.

The worst thing my husband said to me that night was that we would have to sell our house. It was MY house. I had big plans (literally…we had just finished paying for an architect to draw up remodeling plans a few weeks prior). I had already imagined our future Christmases, our girls coming down the staircase for prom & taking pictures in front of the Batchehelder fireplace, how incredible our back yard would look as we hosted friends and family for their weddings amidst fragrant bouquets of flowers and covered in a canopy of fairy lights.

I felt cheated. I felt mad. I felt slighted. I felt my dreams weren’t important.

And for what….a house?

The last day of work for my husband at his original job, was November 19, 2000. For the next decade, I learned quite intimately how I must trust the Lord to be my strength, my hope, my delight, my joy.

Proverbs 10:28 is quite thought-provoking, “The hope of the righteous [those of honorable character and integrity] is joy, But the expectation of the wicked [those who oppose God and ignore His wisdom] comes to nothing.”

Yeah, the Holy Spirit doesn’t mince words here.

And I battled between spiritual integrity and selfish expectations for a long time. It was not pretty.

On the outside, I would plaster on that happy face. But deep down, and many days it bubbled barely beneath the surface, I was angry. And I’m sure you know this…but you cannot be both angry and joyful at the same time. It’s like expecting to bite into a luscious donut and all you get is tofu…they don’t go together…like at all…ever!

Why did we have to struggle so much? Paying our bills, the mortgage, keeping food in the fridge, and gas in the car….seriously? Didn’t GOD tell my husband to quit a perfectly good job and create a new one? Wasn’t it GOD that whispered to the heart of my husband to do his work for Him?  How can GOD direct us to start a Christian company and not bless it?  I mean, really. I was even dyeing & cutting my own hair (oh yeah…it was not a good look…) and stopped getting manicures.

I knew it was petty. I knew that God was in charge. I knew that we would receive blessings from God that would be nothing less than miraculous. I knew all of that in my head, but my heart was in complete denial & filled with frustration pretty much every day.

Proverbs 17:22 summed up my life, “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Well, the second half of that verse sums up my life for far too long.

We moved ~ God graced us with a beautiful new home.

We tried for a third child and had a healthy daughter.

Our cars were different but they were great ~ and paid for!

Our girls were able to remain at their private school ~ total miracle.

We had the support of our church community.

And I still loved my husband.

Things were looking up.

Then the ceiling in our kitchen started to fall down…because of a burst water pipe…from the upstairs bathroom…

Really?

Happiness disappeared like a vapor and Joy…inner peace…that wasn’t even part of the plan anymore. I moved into survival mode.

For the next 18 months, the Lord took us down a road that I still look back on in amazement. Within the first few weeks, I realized that I needed to change my perspective real quick or I was going to implode.

Actually, I didn’t realize it on my own…thankfully I have wonderful mentors and friends who spoke hard truth to my deaf ears and hardened heart. God wasn’t punishing me, my husband, or our family. He was using this time to prune out of my heart what didn’t need to be there in order for His purposes to be completed within me and throughout my life as a witness for Him.

I was broken but knew deep down I was still blessed. I had to pray often for my joy to be renewed. Very often in the beginning!

Psalm 16:11 promises this, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

Where is my joy? It’s in His presence.

Where are the pleasures of life? In His right hand.

Hello! Life changer right there!

We lived in a local hotel for 6 months then moved to a furnished apartment for one year while our house/kitchen went through insurance denials, mold abatement, insurance stalemates, lots of waiting, finally remodeling, then suing the insurance company and moving back home.

I had to learn how to have joy ~ a joy that didn’t come from anything around me or from anything I could produce. I had to rely on the Lord to move within my heart, mind, and soul to create His perfect joy.

I had to ask Him for it…and He gladly answered that prayer!

Part of my responsibility as a wife was to be a support to my husband however I could…happy wife happy life…but not just happy…joyful. As a Mom, my daughters needed as much stability in their lives as possible. At 2, 6, and 8, none of it made sense.  And sleeping together in a pull-out sofa lost its charm pretty quick!

What’s a momma to do…pray!

So I found things I could be joyful about…

Living in a hotel meant I had room/cleaning service…every day!

Apartment laundry rooms meant I could get 15 loads of laundry done in about 3 hours instead of 12…yeah…Every.Week!

Apartment living meant it only took 45 minutes to clean house instead of all day at home.

In both locations, I brought in photos from home and hung them on the wall with those fabulous 3m hooks. I brightened up the beige walls of the apartment entry way with big colorful maps of the USA and one of the world that I found at Costco. I restored part of my sanity by donning a mask & going to our house and getting my sewing machine so I could be creative. I mean, I had all that “free time” that I didn’t have to spend doing laundry or cleaning, right!?!

One of the best ways that the Lord humbled me to learn how to receive His joy was to receive help from others. I didn’t want to be a charity case. But a very wise friend reminded me of how I felt when I was able to bless others with a home-cooked meal, or free babysitting, or a paid-for date night…people wanted to do that for our family now. It’s hard to be on the receiving end, but it’s so worth it.

My attitude began to change and I began to see our reality through the lens of authentic joy. A joy that is not borne out of circumstances, but out of following Christ and choosing to be obedient to what He calls me to walk through.

Once we were able to move back into our house, our life didn’t suddenly become easy.  The money struggles were still there but my husband and I would pray, “Okay Lord, you love to show off to Your children how well you can provide…let’s see what You’re going to do this time!” And we really meant it! And He would always come through. There isn’t enough time to recount the miracles of how God provided for our family during that decade, but it was phenomenal!

Just one quick story, that is still a bit emotional for me to think about, was how we literally had no food in the fridge. We finished up the last of the cereal, eggs, and milk, and used up the rest of what we had to make three little lunches for our girls to take to school. My husband and I prayed before I left to take the girls to school, that God would provide a miracle for us to be able to feed our family. I won’t lie, we were nervous but we trusted God.

As I exited car line and went down a side street, I pulled over and cried and knew I needed to discard my pride and call my parents to help us…and now that I have grown children, there really isn’t an age where that momma heart doesn’t kick in to want to help out your kiddos.

As I held the phone in my hands praying for God to give me the courage to call, it rang…it was my husband…he said, “Everything is great and I’m fine, but you need to come to the office before you go home.” I told him I was about to call my mom about the grocery dilemma and he told me to “wait. Come to the office.” Fine!

I pulled in and walked slowly to his office. He sat there with tears streaming down his face holding a card in his hands. He held it out to my and said, “Just open it.” It was a beautiful floral design, “Thinking of You” kind of card. Inside it read, “Dear Bancroft Family, You are always in my thoughts. Love, Jesus”. Then my husband handed me another little envelope that had been inside the card.

It was a $300 gift card to Ralphs grocery store, written on it with a black sharpie, “To the Bancroft’s ~ Love, Jesus”.

He provided more than enough.

And I still have the card as a reminder that Jesus sees our needs. And that He shops at Ralphs!

Romans 12:11-13, “never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

I learned that there is no “last minute” with God ~ it might feel like MY last minute, but it’s His perfect timing! God has shown up for us every single time.

We have known plenty and we have known want.

But most importantly, we have always known that our joy rests in Him and not in our circumstances.

That is true authentic joy.

To trust the Lord with EVERYTHING! You don’t have to be happy when you go through difficult times, but it is possible to be joyfully content in the midst of the struggle.

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Women's Ministries, Writers

Your View: Windshield or Rear-View…

Are You Looking Out the Windshield or the Rear-View Mirror?

I got the idea for this discussion topic from a sermon I heard the other day on the radio.There’s a reason why the windshield on a car is so large and the rear-view mirror is so small.

We need to have a wide view of what is out in front of us so that we can see where we are going. The point of driving somewhere is to move forward to get where we intend to end up. We don’t drive backwards to get to our destination. Right?

I know these concepts are not mind-blowing or something new…but I think it’s a good reminder every now and then to take notice of where our attention lies.

Rear-view mirrors, and side-view mirrors for that matter, aren’t bad though…they are completely necessary.

When we look up to check the rear-view or side-view mirrors, that’s just it…it’s just to take a quick look to make sure we are not in danger of being in an accident or causing an accident as we move about the road. We are not to allow our focus to linger because if we do, we are bound to run into the car in front of us.

Our past is like those smaller mirrors.

There’s a warning bell that sounds in your heart or your head, when you’re about to veer off course.  It’s the alarm that alerts us to check ourselves. Are we about to make the same mistake for the millionth time? Are we about to say the wrong thing to someone…again…knowing it won’t work? Did we forget what happened the last time? And if the mirror checks don’t work, then when we drive over those little bumpy-things (I’m sure they gave a name!) that’s a physical AND audible alert that we need to correct our path or we’ll soon be in trouble!

When we look into the side mirror, we can see that car speeding up really fast to our left and make that quick decision to WAIT to move over.

When we look into our rear-view mirror, we can see that car speeding up behind us or flashing their lights at us, and decide we need to move over and let that person go on their merry way albeit too fast and not get involved in their crazy. We can also see the red lights of a fire truck or police car, alerting us to move over because there’s trohbke ahead!

So how does that this translate into our spiritual life?

What side glances get you off track?

What kinds of things do you think you should be focusing on in your “front windshield”?

Let’s look at some scripture that talks about looking forward or behind.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (AMP) “Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage] And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity]. Consider well and watch carefully the path of your feet, And all your ways will be steadfast and sure.”

 Right there in scripture ~ “…look directly ahead…”  When we direct our gaze straight ahead, like through a large windshield, we will see the path that clearly leads to integrity!

Hebrews 11: 23-29 (AMP) “By faith Moses, after his birth, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful and divinely favored child; and they were not afraid of the king’s (Pharaoh’s) decree. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he preferred to endure the hardship of the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of the Christ [that is, the rebuke he would suffer for his faithful obedience to God] to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt; for he looked ahead to the reward [promised by God]. By faith he left Egypt, being unafraid of the wrath of the king; for he endured [steadfastly], as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood [on the doorposts], so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them (the firstborn of Israel). By faith the people [of Israel] crossed the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned.”

 I love that these verses in Hebrews remind us that it is not simply looking ahead & fixing our gaze on the Lord; it is through FAITH that we can accomplish this daily task.

 We are also instructed in God’s Word to take His direction for our life very seriously. When He tells us not to look behind us {dwelling on past sin; obsessing over something you think you’ve missed out on; staying stuck in a cycle of unforgiveness; etc.} then He means it!! 

Genesis 19:26 (AMP) “But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she became a pillar of salt.”

God also shows us through scripture how He provides the way out of a situation. One that is getting a bit frightening or unsettling. In Genesis 22:13 (AMP) we see just that…“Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering (ascending sacrifice) instead of his son.”

 Let go of the past and start moving forward! Maybe it’s an actual physical move out of the environment you’re in (work, neighborhood, state…). Maybe it’s a shift in your heart ~ an attitude you’re having is causing disruption in your spiritual life. 

Luke 9:61-62 (AMP) “Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord [as Your disciple]; but first let me say goodbye to those at my home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Don’t linger on looking into the smaller windows. Look through the bigger lens of God’s Word…through His windshield!

Blessings,

René

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Framed by Grace

Have you ever gone to a museum?  I mean, to really go and appreciate the art and the artist? This past summer, we had the amazing privilege of visiting several museums, galleries, and palaces on a trip to Italy and Spain.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime for two reasons ~ our entire family of 5 traveled together and my husband’s fabulous company that he works for basically paid for our time there!

At each point of sightseeing, we took in each scene with great delight and considered the awe of the history that we were witnessing.  I actually think that I paid more attention to the places we went to, because I wanted to make sure that we were taking into consideration the huge blessing of the fact that it was all being paid for by someone else.

To see works of art in Spain: the Picasso museum in Barcelona, along with the art park showcasing the works by Gaudi, and of course the 100+ years of on-going construction of the Sagrada de Familia there….breathtaking!  The King’s Palace in Madrid; the 900 B.C. monastery in Toledo; and the architectural details of just about every building in Valencia!  WOW!  Every day was an artistic adventure!  Being able to be with my daughters and see Michelangelo’s David, in person, stationed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio (the government palace & residence of the Medici’s in Florence, Italy) was absolutely breathtaking.

All of these memories come to mind easily, because I have all 1200 pictures I took on that trip as a rotating screen saver on my computer.  All the fun we had as a family, all the places we saw, all the beauty of the artwork ~ I’m reminded of it every day.  And it just dawned on my today, how that trip was completely framed in grace.  Our family was given something we didn’t do anything to deserve.

Grace ~ the undeserved gift of salvation that we are offered by God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to die and rise again in order to bring us to a reconciled relationship with our Creator!

While I was praying about how this theme of “framed by grace” could be translated into this blog, the Lord gave me the recollections of all those amazing pieces of artwork I saw this past summer.

I remember thinking how the framing process is the last piece to the artistic puzzle.

First, the artist comes up with an idea and out of his passion, he creates a masterpiece.  It is something to be shared and displayed, not hidden away or put in a stack of papers on a desk.  Once the piece is finished, the decisions begin as to how to best frame the artwork.  What color should the mat border be?  Should there be two colors or just one?  What color frame? What type of wood?  What style of frame?  Should it have glass on top, or just the framing? What kind of materials should be used for hanging it….metal nail hook or wire?  So many decisions to make sure that the frame is worthy of the precious and priceless piece of art.

My friends, YOU ARE the artwork!  You have been specifically created by God and are precious in His sight.  The color of your hair, your eyes, your skin…your height, the freckles on your nose, and the size of your feet.  Every little detail has been carefully chosen by The Creator of the Universe. Part of the artwork of your life is also inclusive of the seasons of your life.  The Lord does not just paint one setting for you to live in…the art of your life is fluid and changing, and all a part of His plan.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT), You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

Psalm 139 verse 13-14

And He has framed your life with His grace.  You are His child and His creation. He wants you to be surrounded with His love and with the tender relationship He desires to have with you.  He wants to show you off to the world and say, “Look here!  This one is mine!  Isn’t she beautiful!  Look at the way her eyes sparkle when she is singing songs of worship.  Look at the love she showers upon others who are seeking encouragement.  I did that for her!”

If you have followed the Lord for your whole life, or just for the past week, you already know that the life of Christian isn’t all daisies and roses.  There are trials in our life ~ but even that part of our life {the struggles} are STILL framed by God’s grace.  We are still hemmed in on all sides.

Psalm 139:5 (NLT), “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”

Like a garment is hemmed ~ with the express intention of keeping that piece of clothing from unraveling.  We are hemmed in by God into His frame of grace.  We may feel like our life unravels at times, but we always have a safe place within the calming strength of the Lord.

1 Peter 3:3-5 (NLT), All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”

What a remarkable truth that we carry in our hearts when we follow the Lord!  The salvation God has gifted to us, resulting in a priceless inheritance and an everlasting relationship with the Creator of the universe, is truly a precious and irreplaceable work of art that has absolutely been framed by Grace.

Go boldly forth today and every day, with joy and authority, sharing your story of how God has framed your life by His goodness and His grace.  We all have a testimony to share ~ someone needs to hear yours today!

Blessings,
René

Psalm 139 verse 5

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Visits to the Past

What is the best way to deal with your past in order to move forward with your future?  Just VISIT!!  Here’s a few tips for the trip:

~ Bring a map! ~ 

Psalm 31:2-4Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.”

~ Don’t pack an overnight bag! ~

Isaiah 43:18-19“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

~ Take your ID, so that you remember who you are! ~

I Corinthians 3:16-17Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

~ Don’t bring back souvenirs! ~

2 Peter 1:3-11, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

You have a beautiful future ahead of you!  A magnificent plan has been set forth for you long before you were born!  God has a spectacular journey for you ~ not an easy one, but one that is more incredible than you can possibly imagine!

So as you move forward in the future, there will be some necessary trips back to your past. Events that you will have to face in order to move forward.  People you will need to extend forgiveness to in order to see clearly the path God has for you.  You don’t need to do either of those things by yourself.  Through the strength you receive from the Lord, you CAN do astonishing things!!

But don’t move back there!  Tether yourself to the Word of God so just in case you feel yourself slipping deeper into the past than you need to be…pull on that tethered rope and let the Lord pull you back to safety!

Blessings,

René

 

Proverbs 23:18, “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Proverbs 24:14, “Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries

Grieving With Hope

There have many things I’ve seen & heard about in the last week that have centered around moments brought on by grief. Friends who are mourning the loss of a family member, the extreme tragedy in Paris due to the terrorist bombings, loss of life in various middle Eastern countries, friends who have loved ones dealing with cancer, and others who have lost jobs. There are a variety of ways we experience loss and just as many ways we grieve those losses.

Like you, I’ve experienced various losses in my life and haven’t always handled the process very well.  My first brother died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) at 3 months old ~ I was 23 months old and I remember that day vividly.  I realize now that the way I processed my “2 year old grief” was to become the little momma…everyone’s caretaker to make sure everyone was happy.  I was blessed with several great grandparents and great aunts & uncles, and a great multitude of cousins ~ which meant by the time I was 18, I had attended about 10-12 funerals.  I remember when I was about 31, I attended my first funeral service where the person was not a Christian.  I almost came unglued during the service when this woman’s children looked up toward the ceiling of the church and said, “Well Mom, wherever you are, I hope you are happy and maybe I’ll see you again sometime.” I cried all the way home.  Deeply saddened for this family who was not only dealing with the loss of their sweet mom, but adding to that grief was the knowledge that they didn’t have the hope and security in Christ’s salvation.  I also cried with relief knowing that my daughters would never have to wonder where I was after my time here on earth is done.

This can be a very touchy subject for some, and I do not mean to offend.  What I want to offer you is Hope.  In Christ, through His salvation, we have a hope that is full of grace and mercy; and frankly, totally incomprehensible.

John 3:16-21 beautifully illustrates God’s promise, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

The latter half of these verses readily bring to mind the Paris tragedies that happened this past Friday.  The people who organized these heinous acts are evil. Pure and simple…they. are. evil.  Because sin came into this world (Genesis 3), satan became the ruler of this world.  Satan’s goal is to wreak havoc over the entire earth; to make every good thing God created into something twisted; to turn God’s Word around to make it sound legalistic and unattainable.

My friend ~ look to the truth of God’s Word here in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

In the book of John, chapter 14, the truth that is celebrated on these pages of scripture fills me with great hope and great joy.  Verses 1-7, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”” 

In verses 15-17 of chapter 14, John writes, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” 

But I think my favorite part of John 14 is in verse 27,Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” 

Let me just say…the entire book of John is an amazing account of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ & I recommend that you take a moment and read the whole book.  It holds a brilliant light up to a dark world, proving that Jesus IS who He says He is.  He WILL do what He has promised to do.  We do have salvation through Him and we will be with Him again someday.

But sometimes you have seasons of doubt, usually as a result of some kind of grief you experience.  This is not a concept that is readily spoken about in the Christian church today, and I personally think this is part of the reason why so many Christians become disillusioned with the Word of God and His promises.  No one wants to take the time to walk that dark road of doubt with someone, encouraging them to persevere and make it out back to the light of truth.  God knew we would deal with this emotion of doubt.

One answer comes in Romans 3:3-4a, What then? If some did not believe, will their unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness? Absolutely not! God must be true, even if everyone is a liar,” Just because I may at times doubt in God’s plan for my life or for this world; just because I may at times have a hard time believing that God’s goodness will overcome ~ those human feelings do not in any way nullify the purity and surety that is God.

The NIV Bible version mentions the word “grief”, 32 times in scripture; the word “grieve” or “grieved”, 30 times; and “grieving”, 3 times.   Collectively, that is 65 mentions of grief.  But just like God, He wants to show us His heart and remind us what is true.  Guess how many times the word JOY is used in scripture?  50? 100? 150?  Nope….over 240 times!!!  And the word HOPE is written about 180 times! Mathematically, that’s EIGHT TIMES the amount of God calling us to focus on what is good and truthful, joyful and hopeful…..instead of focusing on the pain of grief.

Psalm 30:11-12 King David joyously declares, You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”

 

For this blog post, I turned to my friends on Facebook and asked them, “What does the statement, ‘grieve with hope’, mean to you?”  Here are some snipits of what they had to say:

“The grief of Christians is very different from the grief of non believers because we have hope that all pain will pass away.” 

“I grieve with hope everyday knowing that my mom is with Jesus and I will see her again. Our view of heaven is very different when someone we love so much is there.”

“The hope that I have in Christ, brings me joy and I know that because of Jesus being my hope.”

“My hope is in that which I do not see … Which is a future with no more tears, no more pain. It’s literally too good to be true – and yet, miraculously, it is true, and there lies my hope.”

There are times and seasons when prayers go unanswered – and we have no idea why! When there are doors we so desperately want to have opened wide and God, in His Wisdom, keeps them closed – or slams them shut!! If we remain in Him, if we persist in prayer and stay in the Word – when our soul is anchored in the Lord, we will soon see His purpose and His reasons.”

“In life, it means to me that broken relationships grieve our hearts, but in the Lord there is hope for healing. In death, it means that when we lose another fellow believer we have hope of being reunited in heaven.”

 

Lamentations 3 verse 24

I am so thankful for the input of these dear friends who shared their heart.  My prayer is that through their words, and through the truth of God’s scripture, that you will begin a new journey of turning your uncertainty to surety, your sorrow to joy, and your grief to hope.  There is HOPE!

Blessings,

René